TURN TO CHANNEL 3: Shoot ‘em up fans shouldn’t fly past ‘U.N. Squadron’ on the SNES
What’s nice about what I do is there are moments when I get to give back to those who have helped me along the way. I have a dear friend in Arkansas named Chadwick Hall who has been a part of some of our more colorful adventures on the Facebook page Retro Junkies (which you should all check out, by the way), and as a token of good friendship, I gave him a boxed copy of today’s topic, “U.N. Squadron” for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System.
For those who are unfamiliar, “U.N. Squadron” is another one of those games that somehow fell under the radar of most gamers during the ‘90s when the SNES and Sega Genesis were doing battle, which is why I’m here to shed some light on it today. Just how does “U.N. Squadron” compare to other titles in the same genre of shoot ‘em ups? Let’s climb into the cockpit and find out!
“U.N. Squadron” (SNES)
The rating I gave this game in sound isn’t to reflect that the soundtrack isn’t good – that’s not the case at all. The problem here is, too often, the music doesn’t seem to match what’s going on or even the theme of the game at all. When you’re blasting bad guys out of the sky or taking out ships below, do you really want to be listening to something that sounds like it is better suited for a generic platform title? For what it is, the soundtrack is awesome, but I wish developers had put a bit more thought into the music before just slapping something down without much regard for what’s going on as gamers do their thing.
Obviously, the sound effects in this game, like those in others like it, are quite good and plentiful, with explosions and gunfire all around. There’s never a shortage of that in “U.N. Squadron,” that’s for sure.
Most of the time, games in this genre are prone to making some stellar jets as well as enemies, while sadly creating levels that lack in comparison. Fortunately for gamers, “U.N. Squadron” puts just as much thought into most of its levels, with engaging jungle forests, rocky gorges, and even among the clouds of an intense thunderstorm, just to name a few. The water stages look cheesy by comparison, but it’s still worth applauding their efforts on the other levels you encounter.
The bosses look great, and the weapons you get to use are also well-presented. Developers could have phoned it in like many others have when creating a title in this genre, but thankfully they didn’t, which is one of the many reasons this game was embraced by many shoot ‘em up fans despite not gaining mainstream attention.
“U.N. Squadron” is definitely a game with a lot going on and, unfortunately, that’s why it tends to suffer a lot from drag, which is common in games like this, but doesn’t change the fact that it takes away from a lot of the overall fun and enjoyment of the title. That being said, there’s a diverse number of weapons, a great story, and bosses that, while pretty easy to defeat, are still a blast to tangle with. Despite the simplicity of the game, as shoot ‘em ups tend to be, there’s still an element of strategy when it comes to selecting your weapons for each mission and how to go about taking down a boss, which is a nice touch.
One could argue that the reason “U.N. Squadron” isn’t heralded as one of the greatest examples of shoot ‘em ups in the genre is because, overall, it just isn’t very good, or worse yet, horribly overrated. I choose to look at it this way – it very well may not be among the top names in its class of shoot ‘em ups, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t fun, addicting at times, and containing enough content and strategy to keep you coming back time and time again.
Like every genre of gaming, there are those big bang moments, and those stepping stones that take us towards the future, and I think that’s where “U.N. Squadron” fits in; it helps set the stage for what gamers would expect in titles like it in the future, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that.
We’re going to end the month of June with one of those big bang kinds of games, one of the often-mentioned grandfathers of the shooter genre.
Until then, crank up that AC and play some games!
Note: All ratings for Turn to Channel 3 are based on a scale of 1-10.
by Nick DeMarco
Nick DeMarco is a blogger, retro video game small business owner, and lover of all things retro. Don't get stuck on an elevator with him, unless you know who Ace Harding is and why Crystal Pepsi deserves just as big a comeback as Surge.